Sunday, 23 July 2017

Read Harder Challenge update

Would it be too much of a cliché for me to start this by asking whether anyone can believe we have passed the halfway mark of the year already? I've enjoyed hearing (reading) people's thoughts on their reading year so far, and thought it would be good to check in with where I'm up to in the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. The titles in regular font I've read, and the ones in italics are things I'm planning to read.

 
  1. Read a book about sports - Breaking the Mould
  2. Read a debut novel - The Dry
  3. Read a book about books - The Burning Page
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative - The Boat
  6. Read an all-ages comic - Gotham Academy
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950 - Rebecca
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before - The Queen of the Tearling
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location - Only Daughter
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location - The Good People
  12. Read a fantasy novel - The Fate of the Tearling
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  14. Read a book about war - Beast's Garden
  15. Read a YA novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+ - The Fly Wheel
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country - Sidekicks
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead - Ms Marvel
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel  - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  21. Read a book published by a micropress. -Where Shadows Rise
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman - The Birds and Other Stories
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
  24. Read a book wherein all POV characters are people of color - When Dimple Met Rishi
 

I'm counting 14 as done, so 10 to go. You can see I have ideas for most of them, but suggestions are welcome for the tasks I haven't got titles against yet. I think the trickiest for me is going to be the collection of poetry in translation - I actually have no idea where to even start with that one!


I'd love to hear about how you're going with your 2017 reading goals, if you set any? Let me know in the comments below!


xo Bron

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Review :: Secrets of the Tulip Sisters :: Susan Mallery

**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.** 

Kelly Murphy's life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing's prodigal son, who's set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone.


But Olivia's return isn't as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future, and ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She's determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now.


While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters?

 

I don't read a lot of romance/"woman's fiction" (can we call it something different?) but this looked cute, and I liked the cover, and I've really been enjoying Harlequin's new releases, so I thought it was worth a try. 


And I was pleased I did! This was a sweet, sometimes funny and often sexy story of the relationships between 'the Tulip sisters', their parents and friends in a small touristy town.I felt like I got to know the characters enough to care how things turned out for them. 


It actually got a bit sexier than i expected - there were some bits where this bordered on awkward (like when one of the guys gets quite scientific about how to 'please' a woman - I couldn't quite decide whether this was creepy or endearing haha 

This was a quick fun read, and I gave it 3/5 stars.

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery is out now from Harlequin Books. I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy). All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Review :: Gork, the Teenage Dragon :: Gabe Hudson

Gork isn’t like the other dragons at WarWings Military Academy. He has a gigantic heart, two-inch horns, and an occasional problem with fainting. His nickname is Weak Sauce and his Will to Power ranking is Snacklicious—the lowest in his class. But he is determined not to let any of this hold him back as he embarks on the most important mission of his life: tonight, on the eve of his high school graduation, he must ask a female dragon to be his queen. If she says yes, they'll go off to conquer a foreign planet together. If she says no, Gork becomes a slave.

Vying with Jocks, Nerds, Mutants, and Multi-Dimensioners to find his mate, Gork encounters an unforgettable cast of friends and foes, including Dr. Terrible, the mad scientist; Fribby, a robot dragon obsessed with death; and Metheldra, a healer specializing in acupuncture with swords. But finally it is Gork's biggest perceived weakness, his huge heart, that will guide him through his epic quest and help him reach his ultimate destination: planet Earth.

A love story, a fantasy, and a coming-of-age story, Gork the Teenage Dragon is a wildly comic, beautifully imagined, and deeply heartfelt debut novel that shows us just how human a dragon can be.
 

If you think this books sounds weird, you're right - it was pretty weird! And towards the end it got really weird, and also pretty gruesome. To be honest, I think I liked it better once I had finished than I did while I was reading - I spent quite a bit of time thinking "what am I even reading" and then my first thought when I finished was "that was GOOOOOOD!"

It was funny - there were bits that made me laugh out loud, and bits that I read out to my partner because I thought they were so funny. I also really liked the resolution and the message at the end.

I'm not really sure if I have a good read-alike, but it reminded me a bit of reading Magnus Chase, although would probably be suitable for a bit older audience. It had a similar young, male, kind of annoying, self-depricating protagonist.

Overall, a fun but weird read - a good one for the teenage reader in your life (maybe especially boys?)
I gave it 3/5 stars.

Xo Bron

Gork, the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson is out now from Knopf Doubleday Publishing. I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy). All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

More library books

 

We all know library holds have a habit of coming in packs, and since my July library loan post I've added three more to the stack!

 
What these three have in common, aside from being from the library, is that they all have such beautiful covers - some of my favourite's on books I've read so far this year!

 

I've almost finished The Bear and the Nightingale, and am loving it!


Have you read any of these? And do you have a favourite cover this year? Tell me about it in the comments! 

Xo Bron 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Review :: Unnatural Habits :: Kerry Greenwood


I'm pretty familiar with Kerry Greenwood's work - having read a couple of  her Phryne Fisher books before (as well as her Corinna Chapman series, which I like even more), so I was more than happy to receive a couple of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries from Poisoned Pen Press to review here on the blog.




1929: Girls are going missing in Melbourne. Little, pretty, golden haired girls. And not just pretty. Three of them are pregnant, poor girls from the harsh confines of the Magdalene Laundry. People are getting nervous.

Polly Kettle, a pushy, self important Girl Reporter with ambition and no sense of self preservation, decides to investigate and promptly goes missing herself.

It’s time for Phryne and Dot to put a stop to this and find Polly Kettle before something quite irreparable happens to all of them. It’s all piracy and dark cellars, convents and plots, murder and mystery …. and Phryne finally finds out if it’s true that blondes have more fun.

One of my favourite things about a character, like Phryne, who the author has been writing for so many books is that they feel so real that they could practically walk off the page. Every single thing Phryne does or says is so Phryne. As always, I enjoyed spending time with this clever, witty, and somewhat judgemental woman. I also love seeing how her relationships with her friends and minions develop across the series. The extra bonus for me is the glimpses Greenwood gives us into Phryne's Melbourne - I loved reading the authors notes in the back about the ways the story was rooted in real 1920s Melbourne.

The story itself was fun and twisty, and a bit horrifying, really. It centres around the treatment of 'fallen' (ie pregnant out of wedlock) women - the timing was pretty good for me right now, with feminism and books like The Handmaid's Tale right at the front of our minds.

I gave this 3.5 stars - mystery-solving fun with a familiar friend

xo Bron

 Unnatural Habits (Phryne Fisher #19) by Kerry Greenwood is out now from Poisoned Pen. I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy). All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Review :: The Blood of Gods and Royals series:: Eleanor Herman

I requested a review copy of Reign of Serpents without realising it was the third book in a series (The Blood of Gods and Royals series), and then just couldn't bring myself to read it without reading the previous books. That felt like kind of a big commitment for a review, so I bought the first book planning to let the publisher know if I wasn't into the series enough to continue. As it turns out I needn't have worried - before I even finished the first book (Legacy of Kings) I had bought and downloaded the second one (Empire of Dust), and by the time I was almost finished that one I was wondering how I would survive the wait between Reign of Serpents and the final book in the series, which will come out next year.

 

In case it isn't obvious, I was completely blown away by this series, and can not believe that it hasn't had more buzz!

Rather than specifically reviewing Reign of Serpents I thought I'd tell you a bit about the series in general, and what I loved about it (since it's tricky to review a single book that comes midway through a series!). I should note, there are also two novellas which I haven't read yet (but am looking forward to!)
  

The series is historical fiction fantasy, set in the time of a teenaged Alexander the Great, and centres largely around his story, but with a helping of magic and myth added in. The books have a similar feeling to Game of Thrones, but with the violence, sex, and swearing pulled right back to fit comfortably into the YA genre. The story feels epic, and we pick up and put together the plot from bits and pieces told to us by a range of characters through POV that changes with the chapters.

So, what were some of my favourite things about these books?
  • the range of characters we get to know - there is a good mix of male and female characters, each of whom is both strong but flawed (no perfect princesses here!)
  • the author notes in the back of each book, which talk about what inspired Herman to write these books, what we know about the culture of the time and actual events that occurred, and how they have been used in the stories
  • historical fiction! I love feeling like I'm learning something while I read!
  • the lack of full on sexiness, swearing, graphic violence, and kind of romance in general.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not against these things in a book, but sometimes they can feel a bit gratuitous, and it just felt kind of refreshing to read a full on epic adventure series like this without them. Also sometimes the preoccupation of female protagonists especially can distract from the story for me. There is a tiny bit of love in the air in these books, but it isn't in your face all the time.
 

It is probably no surprise that I am currently recommending this series to EVERYONE, and I expect  will continue to do so for some time. I rated the first book 4/5 stars, and the other two 5/5 stars please go and read them now!

xo Bron

Reign of Serpents by Eleanor Herman is out now from Harlequin Books. I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review, but only chose to read it because it sounded like something I would enjoy (life's too short to read books we don't think we'll enjoy). I purchased my own copies of Legacy of Kings and Empire of Dust. All opinions on my blog are my own, and I wouldn't tell you it was good if I didn't really think so. =)

Monday, 3 July 2017

July Library Loans

 
My library loan stack is pretty tiny this month - I've been reading loads of books for review, and the library books have been bumped. I've even returned a couple unread, which I hate! Anyhow, just the three books this month: The Virgin CureThe New Boy, and The Bear and the Nightingale.
I'd love to know whether you've read any of these, or advice on which to read first =)

X Bron